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J Nutr. 1993 May;123(5):915-25.

Riboflavin requirement of healthy elderly humans and its relationship to macronutrient composition of the diet.

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  • 1U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111.


The riboflavin requirements of two groups of riboflavin-deficient, but otherwise healthy, Guatemalan elderly persons over the age of 60 y were studied by varying the fat:carbohydrate ratio in two diets. The first group consumed a diet similar in macronutrient content to a Western-type diet with low carbohydrate and high fat; the second group consumed a typical Guatemalan diet with high carbohydrate and low fat. Energy and protein intakes of both groups were similar. Riboflavin status was monitored by weekly measurements of erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity coefficient (EGRAC) and urinary riboflavin excretion. Increasing increments of riboflavin were added to the subjects' diets until their status was normalized, as indicated by EGRAC of < 1.34 and a sharp increase in urinary riboflavin excretion. Using the EGRAC method, the mean value of riboflavin intake at which the subjects' EGRAC reached the limit of normality was 1.37 +/- 0.03 mg/d in the first phase and 1.29 +/- 0.03 mg/d in the second phase. The sharp increase in urinary excretion occurred at riboflavin intakes of 1.13 and 1.03 mg/d for Groups 1 and 2, respectively. Thus, the differences between the two groups suggest that diets with a lower fat:carbohydrate ratio can decrease the dietary need for riboflavin. The dietary requirement of riboflavin, as estimated by the more reliable urinary excretion method, was 1.1-1.3 mg/d for those consuming the Western-type diet, which is similar to values found over 40 y ago in young adults. We conclude that the dietary requirements of riboflavin in the elderly do not differ from those of young adults.

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